As a cradle Catholic, missing Sunday Mass was never an option, we went every week without fail. And though I am more flexible these days – I will take a break if I’m tired, or there is a one off event I can’t miss – weekly Mass is still central to my life. Most Sundays will find me, sitting with my family, at the 10am service, where I always appreciate coming before God with my faith community.
I once heard it said that we will never stop going to war until we have the courage to admit that many of the lives lost are simply wasted, sacrificed for nothing. This is a terrible thing to admit, especially for the bereaved, but if it will prevent other young lives being wasted, isn’t it our duty to face the truth?
The Royal British Legion, who run the Poppy Appeal, have in recent years shown a tendency to misuse the message of remembrance to encourage a pro-war, jingoistic agenda. They have now taken things a step further by using an anti-war song in a fundraising film – after taking the anti-war lyrics out.
The meaning and integrity of any creative work – literary, musical or visual – inheres in completeness. Imagine Beethoven's last symphonic work without the great choral cry of “Freude!” Or Shelley's Ozymandias shorn of its final four lines and thus reduced from an enduring reminder of the transience of power to a graceful, if mordant antiquarian observation.
Red, white, purple or any combination thereof. The hue of the poppy we wear should be the choice of an informed conscience. To be coerced into a symbol, for whatever reason and by whatever means, immediately invalidates its significance.
This year Remembrance Day and the Sunday events associated with it will have an added poignancy because of the marking of the centenary of the First World War and all the discussion and debate that has occasioned.